I was homeless. Twice. Apparently, the first time was not enough to get me to change. Nope, I had to live through the pain and agony associated with not knowing where my daughters would lay their heads down, and if it would be a safe environment -twice. But that second time, it was a wake-up call. Something finally clicked in my head and in my heart and I broke an unhealthy cycle. But just because I broke one cycle did not mean I had a clear direction. Then I came across The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I found myself at a fork in the road. What was I supposed to do next? How could I go on and become a responsible woman and mother if I didn’t have the basic four walls in place?
Perhaps you’re wondering what these four walls are that the Dave Ramsey fanatics talk about on the group boards or on the radio. Simple, they’re the four priorities you need in your life. You can’t even think about getting out of debt without these essential four walls. Well, you can think and plan, but your goal is to first meet these four needs before you can start baby step one.
What is the Dave Ramsey four walls?
Dave Ramsey mentions the four walls in his book The Total Money Makeover. Before you can concern yourself with getting out of debt and building wealth you must have four walls in place.
The Dave Ramsey first wall is a food.
Without food, you can’t survive. It’s simple, your body needs food, it’s the fuel to keep going. But often times the food budget is the only place that can be touched when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. I know, I’m currently there.
Every family has different needs when it comes to budgeting for food. But when you’re in gazelle mode, there needs to not only be a debt deduction but a possible weight reduction, I’m guilty folks! When you only have a set amount budgeted for groceries, you realize that the bag of carrots is of more importance to your family than a box of fruit snacks. (Tip, don’t take your kids shopping with you!)
The Dave Ramsey second wall is having utilities and a roof over your head.
You need to make sure you have a secure and safe place to live in. A car is not going to do it, and I’m not sure couch surfing will do it either. I know some people do long-term hotel living, RV living and tiny home living. More power to you!
You can live without cable, the internet or a phone. But you need to have your power on and running water. If you’re finding that you can’t afford to pay your electric bill, call your power company and ask for either a budget plan or if there’s a program you can join such as Liheap for a voucher. (Want extra tips? Here are 10 ways to save money on your monthly bills.)
The Dave Ramsey third wall is transportation.
I don’t believe you need to own a car unless you live in a place without public transportation. Slatington had one bus, and it ran through twice a day. I know the pain.
If you need to have a car consider getting a beater. One of the easiest ways to forever stay in debt is to have a car payment. It’s not worth it. If you can have access to public transportation, consider getting a monthly bus or train ticket. Yes, you can run errands this way (inconvenient I know).
The Dave Ramsey fourth wall is clothing.
98% of my family’s clothing comes from a thrift store. This wall does not mean you have to have a closet full of clothing. It just means you have something to wear. I believe the magic number looks like 5-7 shirts, 3 pants, 2 sweaters, 1 coat, 3 shorts/skirts a pair of sneakers, boots and perhaps sandals. Very basic. You will be living like no one else if you want to follow the Dave Ramsey plan. Remember, this is temporary.
Those are the infamous Dave Ramsey four walls! Regardless of what baby step you are in, you have to make sure your four walls are in place. Thankfully, as you progress through the financial freedom journey you will begin to create sinking funds and not have to worry about getting into debt over a new pair of shoes Jimmy needs or the extremely high electric bill that came in the middle of winter.